Just how good is Chick-fil-A? I couldn't tell you. I've heard the chicken sandwiches and waffle-cut fries are very tasty, but I've never tried them. Like many, I cannot let my hard-earned money go to groups that are trying to work against my best interests. And make no mistake, the fast-food chain does work against the LGBTQ community. That doesn't stop many of my friends and family — including some also in the LGBTQ community — from partaking of its greasy goodness, but whether they admit it to themselves or not, it's a bad bite for anyone who considers themselves an ally.
The Georgia-based company first made headlines regarding the LGBTQ community in 2012 when its CEO came out against same-sex marriage. Chick-fil-A's PR department has since tried to win back its LGBTQ business, but last week, ThinkProgress uncovered the chain's 2017 tax filings, which show its charitable arm gave $1.65 million to two anti-LGBTQ organizations. The bulk of the donation ($1,653,416) went to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, which bans “homosexual acts.” And $6,000 went to the Paul Anderson Youth Home, which provides housing for troubled youth, where it teaches them that “homosexuality is wrong” and that same-sex marriage is a “rage against Jesus Christ and his values.” Another $150,000 went to the Salvation Army, which has been accused of anti-LGBTQ discrimination over the years.
It seems as if Chick-fil-A isn't keeping its 2013 promise to cut back on anti-LGBTQ giving. In response to this, city council members in San Antonio, Texas, signed an agreement last week that dropped a planned Chick-fil-A at their airport. In the past, other cities such as Toronto as well as some colleges like New Jersey's Rider College have either boycotted or banned the chain for its homophobic ties.
When confronted with this latest news, Chick-fil-A officials told ThinkProgress that they were ending their relationship with the Anderson Youth Home but mentioned nothing of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, which received the bulk of the company's donation. There also was no mention of the fact that Chick-fil-A has failed to add anti-discrimination protections for its LGBTQ employees. In fact, it earns a zero in the Human Rights Campaign's annual buyers guide.
This is why I refuse to eat there. While my $8 lunch seems like nothing, a bunch of $8 lunches added up together make up the $1.65 million donation to organizations that oppose me. Essentially, eating there would be helping contribute against my own well-being. Perhaps Christian-run businesses such as Chick-fil-A, which offer secular, non-religious goods to the public for consumption, should take a page from Target's book. The chain got heat, like Chick-fil-A, for donating to anti-gay organizations in 2011, but when Lady Gaga threatened to pull an exclusive special edition of Born This Way from the store, the company agreed to stop these donations and give the money to LGBTQ organizations instead.
Unlike Chick-fil-A, Target not only kept its promise but went a step further and actually embraced LGBTQ customers. In 2014 Target publicly endorsed marriage equality and, as of a few years ago, its stores have sold exclusive rainbow-themed merchandise during Pride season in May and June.
The LGBTQ community has money to spend, and since capitalism is still the country's driving force, we need to show companies like Chick-fil-A that opposing LGBTQ equality is bad for business. Target had some anti-LGBTQ groups turn on it after the chain embraced us, and yes, it has sometimes fallen short in its sales because of this. But Target has held firm to its LGBTQ support and, along with other retail chains including H&M, Gap and even Walmart, has found that marketing and including the LGBTQ community can make it money. This is why it's no surprise that, as I wrote in last week's column, a large portion of the business community supports the passage of the Equality Act.
Religious people and corporations are entitled to spend their money as they choose, including donating to religious organizations. But if these religious organizations have a mission to destroy my community, then I have the right to mobilize against them and should stop putting money in their pockets. Yes, sometimes making this choice is difficult. When In-N-Out was outed as having donated to Republican candidates over the years, the Double-Double became a dubious dinner to some. The burger company also donated to liberal causes, so for many it balanced out. I myself went to Coachella even after reading articles about AEG owner Philip Anschutz donating to anti-LGBTQ organizations, but seeing my favorite music artists meant more than any fast-food fix to me, and I'm sure I'm not alone. So in the words of Beyoncé, LGBTQ people and our supporters need to figure out where we stand, get in formation, and hopefully forgo the ’fil-A once and for all.